Chapter 8:

Aftermath part three

Aftershock


Jax didn’t go home after leaving Kyoka. Instead he pulled his damaged hoodie back on and started walking back to the station. He had to see it, had to know exactly what happened when the bombs went off. Kyoka lived closer to it than he did, probably why he’d run to her place instead of somewhere else. It was about ten minutes normally by foot, the entire way there Jax had his hands stuffed into his pockets. Eyes locked onto the ground. Praying the dark of night would be enough to hide the long tear in his sleeve and the bandages underneath.Bookmark here

He felt empty, somehow. The fact he’d just endangered his oldest friend, blown up a building, and maybe even killed someone all rolling around his mind like marbles in a cup. He knew they were there, but he didn’t feel anything. Or maybe it was the opposite, he felt too much. Bookmark here

He made it about a quarter of the way before he saw the Servator Dreamers. Somehow even creepier than normal dreamers, their masks made them look like mannequins. There was a group of them standing in a line, blocking the sidewalk and the street. Jax cursed softly, he hadn’t thought the Servators would show up this quickly. If they even showed up at all. He looked up and saw a significant number of sentry drones buzzing around. Rather than push his already strained luck, Jax just turned around and started walking home. Coming here had been a mistake, he was just going to get himself caught. On his walk he found himself wandering, not sure where he was going but not really ready to go home yet.Bookmark here

He did this for a little over an hour. Ending up at a familiar intersection. A few cars passed by but it was largely deserted. Jax stared at that intersection, memories flooded this place. He remembered the trips his family used to take out to the parks, the rental car his uncle saved for them to use, the sharp pain in his neck and the heat. Bookmark here

His hand went to the scar on his neck, so faint it was barely there. You couldn’t even see it unless you knew to look. But sometimes, Jax swore he could still feel the blood on his neck. Even now, all these years after the accident he could still hear the crunching of metal in his ears. Feel the heat of the fire as his dad pulled out. See his mother, bleeding out onto the street as an emergency rescue vehicle rushed away. Carrying a woman in a blue dress whose face had seared itself into his mind.Bookmark here

He realized that he’d never come back here since that day. He hadn’t avoided it, there had just never been a reason. Especially with everything that happened afterwards. He discovered his powers that day, they were probably how he had survived. That was the only positive thing that came of it, they lost more than his mother that day. Despite the accident not being their fault, they were the ones forced to pay the damages. It had cost them their home, his dad’s original job, their position as middle class citizens, and gotten them put to sleep. All that, and not even an apology. Bookmark here

It was when Jax learned that the citizens only lived free and peaceful lives because it was more convenient. You couldn’t get artsy fashion from machines because they had very limited creativity. You couldn’t ask your robot chef to prepare you a surprise meal because the robot only knew so many recipes and struggled to improvise. Citizens were only free because the people who ran the city wanted people to rule over, and servants to make things convenient for them. It was a fact that made his blood boil. But standing here now, staring at that empty space where his life had been changed forever he didn’t feel any of that anger. Bookmark here

He saw the past and thought about his mom and the way she used to smile. What would she think about him right now? Would she say the same things his dad said? “Think Jackson,” He had thought, he had stopped. But he had still made the mistake, losing control just enough to make a mistake he couldn’t undo. He imagined the building how it probably looked. Broken and smoldering. Chunks of glass and steel littered around. What if the woman he’d seen died? Was there anyone who would miss her? Did he actually care? It was a dumb comparison, his accidental bombing was not the same as when she had killed his mom and destroyed his family’s life. He just needed to go home, sleep. He could think about all of this tomorrow, after he rested.Bookmark here

When he did get home all the pain and fatigue fell on him like a wave, sucking the will to do anything out of his body. He was so tired, more than he could remember ever being. He slipped into his room, dropped his bag and collapsed onto the bed. Regretting the decision when his injuries pulsed in protest. He waited a beat, letting the pain subside. Then he rolled over onto his back, staring up at nothing. Maybe everything would turn out fine. The Servators wouldn’t find anything, nobody would have gotten hurt in the explosion, and life could stay normal. He’d go to school tomorrow and people would talk about the explosion for a bit, then eventually they’d forget about it. Switching to some other unimportant topic. He smiled at the thought, they’d probably ask him why he was covered in bruises. What story would he tell? He would have to come up with a good one. Bookmark here

Eventually Jax fell asleep, feeling secure. Everything would be fine, it had to be.Bookmark here

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